A Fresh Start

I cannot believe I have my own office! We did have one  in our old house but I shared it with my boyfriend. This meant also sharing the space with his piles of photography magazines,  paperwork, bits’n’bobs, odds’n’sods and unshredded addresses. I cannot work in a mess so my first novel was written on my little net book on my dressing table.  2012-11-11 13.44.34

This week I have been ploughing through boxes to decide what I want in my office and what I can do without. A fresh start is great but let me warn you … it takes bloomin’ ages!  I have managed to go through every folder to see what is essential. After five days,  I am left with, three full boxes to go into the loft and two large bags of recycling. IMAG1709

I have also bought pretty folders and boxes which match the decor.  There is no reason I can’t be stylish whilst working – talking of which, I am about to start getting some actual writing done today and I can’t wait.

Animal Flow

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YOU MAY WATCH THE VIDEO AND LOOK LIKE THIS!

I have never been one to rave about ‘the latest thing’ when it comes to fitness trends as I’m a gym bunny through and through, but Animal Flow has really impressed me.

Most new trends are purely a mash-up of other well-established training methods and are just a way of some people in the fitness industry to make money. Animal Flow is exactly this but I am prepared to swallow my bodybuilding pride and admit that I LOVE IT!!

Mike Fitch, the originator of Animal Flow, travelled the world to experience different forms of fitness from martial arts to circus training. He wanted to workout without weights and still get a great body. He came up with Animal Flow. A functional training programme that means you move in smooth motions mimicking various animal movements. Check out Animal flow with Mike Fitch

BUT AFTER A FEW WEEKS YOU COULD BE ORE LIKE THIS!!

BUT AFTER A FEW WEEKS YOU COULD BE MORE LIKE THIS!!

I have been adding some of the moves to my training and to the training of a 55-year-old client and apart from the impressive change in our body shape, it’s great fun! Don’t let the seemingly steady pace fool you……IT IS KNACKERING!

So whatever your age, don’t think you can’t join in, just take it steady and give yourself a goal to perfect each movement one at a time. Good Luck and happy flowing.

Interview Special: The Life And Times Of A Proofreader…with Julia Gibbs

Great interview with proofreader Julia Gibbs. I think I need her for my next book.

My Year in Books 2014 – part 2

INDISPUTABLE PROOF -Gary Williams & Vicky Knerly

The blurb – With his father in a coma, CIA operative Samuel Tolen may have found a way to answer mankind’s greatest question: Is there life after death?

When the Sudarium of Oviedo—the venerable cloth that once covered Jesus Christ’s face on the cross—is stolen from a cathedral in Spain, it sparks a series of grisly murders. Each victim is killed in a manner resembling the form of execution of one of the Apostles. American CIA operative Samuel Tolen, Spanish inspector Pascal Diaz, and British archaeologist Dr. Jade Mollur embark on a journey to reclaim the Sudarium. Their search takes a surprising turn when a 2,000-year-old clue from Joseph of Arimathea suggests a far greater secret is within reach; a startling discovery that would forever change humanity.

Embroiled in a deadly hunt that takes them from the grounds of Harvard University to the coast of Costa Rica, from a hallowed Greek Isle to an exquisite Spanish cathedral, and ultimately to the doorstep of mankind’s greatest civilization, Tolen, Diaz, and Mollur will search for the ultimate truth in the midst of unspeakable deception. But is it a truth mankind was meant to discover?

This was a fast-paced ride through various exotic settings. The integrated historical facts  help to keep the Oooh factor going. This is a book you should just enjoy and not analyse too much. I shall be reading more from these authors!

 

Reluctant Cupid – Jenny Conrad (Perrie McGee book 1)

I read this book after failing to finish White Bones (see part 1), and I must say, it was a welcome relief. Like the first ray of sun in Spring, this made me smile.  It has a funny overweight protagonist who is not ashamed of the fact that she just likes food. She gets bullied into becoming a dating service and the story begins.
Take this one to the beach or just sit in the garden undisturbed. Good fun!
Jacket blurb – Perrie McGee has had it with love. Her husband has left her for a woman half her age, a quarter of her size who has a penchant for skintight snakeskin trousers. Love is a dirty word as far as Perrie is concerned.
This changes the day Perrie knocks down a matchmaker and has to take her place. While finding love for strangers, Perrie meets Quinn and finds she can begin to love again.

 

CONSPIRACY – Judith Tramayne

Jacket blurb – Struck by lightning at age 13, Breanna found to her delight she received paranormal powers. No, not your usual powers although she had those – no, her powers were more unique. So unique, Breanna used them to make sure the Seattle District of the IRS became the top District in the nation.

When her friend and mentor, the new District Director of the Seattle Office is suddenly murdered after discovering a conspiracy between the IRS, FBI and Congress, Breanna vows to find out who is responsible.Judith Tramayne - Conspiracy

Her quest leads her right into the arms of Stone Reeves, an FBI agent who is hiding a secret. A secret he won’t disclose until they both are running for their lives because the conspirators have targeted them as their next victims.

As someone who loves a conspiracy, I am often disappointed when I read a book about one. I was not sure how this story would work as it had everything in there; Paranormal, romance, conspiracy, murder, the importance of friendship and even the IRS! Phew . So did it deliver? Actually, it did. It was a really good read with lots of excitement once it got going and a rather  emotional in places. Slightly more girlie based but don’t overlook it fellas, it’s still a good conspiracy at the core.

 

All of these books were downloaded from Amazon to my Kindle.

 

 

 

 


My Year in Books 2014 -part 1

I try to read every day, whether I have ten minutes or a whole afternoon. My favourite genre is Crime/thriller/mystery but I also enjoy the ease and lightheartedness of a good chick lit novel. So here are some of the books I have read in the last year and I have included a short synopsis of the story and whether I enjoyed it or not.

 

My Sister’s Keeper  I actually brought this on Kindle thinking it was the one that was made into a film with Cameron Diaz. The film looked a little depressing, but the book was highly acclaimed and I was trying to widen my reading horizons. Little did I realize, that I had chosen a completely different story by a different author. My book was written by Bill Benners and was a suspense thriller about a man who rushes home to help with his sister’s recovery after she is attacked and left confined to a wheelchair. He has to deal with a dark family secret and the fact that he is the prime suspect in the murder of a young woman.My Sister's Keeper

I really enjoyed this book and was glad that I had chosen the wrong one. This was enjoyable to read and had lots going on. Danger, Romance and mystery. Well worth the effort.

 

 

Sleep Tight

I purchased this on Amazon for 0.99p. Was it worth more? Yes I think it was.  Here’s the Jacket blurb; How far would you go to hold on to the people you love? Sleep Tight

When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced. Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning.

But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table. The police want to issue an appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.
And then they find the blood…
Has the past caught up with Olivia?

This book will have you jumping from one suspect to another trying to do your best Columbo bit and I bet  you don’t figure it out until the end. A clever, psychological thriller. Two thumbs up!

 

 

White Bones (Katie Maguire 1) – One wet November morning, a field on Meagher’s Farm gives up the dismembered bones of eleven women. In this part of Ireland, unmarked graves are common. But these bones date to 1915, long before the Troubles. What’s more, these bones bear the marks of a meticulous executioner. These women were almost certainly skinned alive.
Detective Katie Maguire, of the Cork Garda, is used to dead bodies. But this is wholesale butchery. Her team think these long-dead women are a waste of police time. Katie is determined to give them justice. White Bones (Katie Maguire 1)

And then a young American tourist goes missing, and her bones, carefully stripped of flesh, are discovered on the same farm. With the crimes of the past echoing in the present, Katie must solve a decades-old ritualistic murder before this terrifying killer strikes again.

I was really excited to begin this book as I knew it had great reviews on Amazon by well over a thousand readers. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it. Even though I am kind of obsessed with murder and death, I found this a bit depressing. I am probably in the minority and maybe I’ll try it again but it was a thumb down for me.

Can You Write in a Mess?

At last, I have time to get back to some normality after moving house. Don’t get me wrong, we are still surrounded by boxes but we’re in! I cannot believe how much stuff we accumulated in a 3 bedroom house. Luckily we don’t have children as there would have been nowhere to put them! (We did have a nice shed which could have been useful).

The best part of our new house is that I now have my own office downstairs overlooking our lovely garden. Carl has been warned about putting ANYTHING on my desk and he has not only bought me a new laptop but an adjustable STAND-UP DESK as I don’t like sitting for too long. I still have boxes awaiting some form of shelving but being able to write with a clear desk is bliss for me. wpid-IMAG1586_1.jpg

Over the years I have read features in Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum where they interview writers about where they write. Some of them have no problem writing even when their desk is in complete chaos. One author had so much on her desk that it was hard to identify where her computer was! I am in awe of these writers as it must be so great to be able to get working without the niggling monster that is your head telling you ‘A clear space means a clear mind‘.

DO YOU NEED YOUR WRITING SPACE TO BE CLEAR?wpid-IMAG1587_1.jpg

This is a picture of my lovely clear desk :-). The turtle is functional, it’s holding my paperclips; plus he’s really cute.

Annecy, France

While everyone else was stuffing their faces with Easter eggs, myself, Carl and friends, Peter and Ivy, were on our way to Annecy in France. We stopped off  in Grey for an overnight stay in the Chateau de Rigny. This is a picture of the lounge.Photo - services

The Chateau de Rigny is a rather beautiful hotel off the main track but worth the detour. The decor is classic French as is the cuisine and the  grounds are well worth a stroll around after dinner. This is what we found in our room on arrival. Aaahh bless.wpid-IMAG1468.jpg

After a lovely overnight stay, we got back into our cars and set directions for Annecy.

hotels french alps Annecy near Geneva

Our hotel there, Hotel Imperial Palace,  was right by the lake and just a stroll from the old town which they call ‘Little Venice’. You can see why from the photographs.

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We were lucky with the weather but it wasn’t quite hot enough for a swim in the lake. Maybe next time.

On a trip further into the mountains, we put the tops down on the cars, popped on our sunglasses and got our cameras ready for some spectacular scenery. We were not disappointed as the views improved the higher we got. Within five minutes of this first picture,  the scene turned into a ski resort complete with snow! I was wearing open-toed sandals. Luckily, I had Carl’s sweatshirt in the boot of the car. We stopped for lunch in a lonesome restaurant at the top of the mountain, which was busy with cyclist. I’ll do that next time 🙂

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Our last stop was the Chateau de Barive in Saint-Preuve.

After about a 300mile trip, our first sight of the chateau was delightful. It is in a secluded area, surrounded by fields of green and gold. Even better, we were offered a glass of the local cider on arrival, which was very welcome.

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For dinner that evening, we were treated to the most amazing meal we had ever had.  It began with Champagne cocktails and a small tray of amuse bouche. The meal ended with a dessert that I just couldn’t fit in and then along came candy floss and caramel chocolate covered ice cream on sticks!

So, if you are in that area at any time -especially if you are a foodie – I would highly recommend a stay here. Oh I forgot, when Carl ordered a tea to drink in the lounge after dinner, we wobbled through and there on the table next to the tea was a jar of homemade marshmallows and  16 petit fours. I’m ashamed to say that I had to try one of them. 😦

Double time in the gym next week.

Au revoir mes amis!

 

 

 

WRITING LESSONS – USING NUMBERS

This is from the University of Bristol website. You can brush up on your gramma oops I mean grammar and they have worksheets where  you can test yourself. I have found it really helpful so I thought I would share it.

USING NUMBERS

When using numbers in essays and reports, it is important to decide whether to write the number out in full (two hundred thousand four hundred and six) or to use numerals (200,406).

There are some rules to follow to make sure you use numbers in the right way.

Use words if the number can be written in two words of fewer. Remember that some words require a hyphen (twenty-six, thirty-nine). Some guides recommend that numbers up to nine should be written in words, and those over nine written using numerals.

You should use numerals if the number modifies a unit of measurement, time or proportion (5 minutes, 8 kilograms, 54 mph). Abbreviations of units of measure should always be in the singular. (8 kg, 17cm, 12,900 km)

I live at number forty-eight.

I thought there were nine biscuits left in the tin?

My new car does 0-60 mph in just over 12 minutes.

She broke the long jump record by 17 centimetres.

The prize marrow weighed over 67 kg.

Numerals should be used for all larger numbers although the context might determine the precise usage. In technical writing such numbers should always be written using numerals. If the number is less precise, it may be possible to write the number in words.

The rock sample measured 17.74 grams when dried.

The lower attaining maths group’s mean score was 88.6, with a standard deviation of 14.3.

There are over thirty million people living in Mexico City.

Florida contains several thousand disenfranchised voters.

Numerals should always be used for decimals and fractions (7.625, 1/4 in, 1/2 a pint, 0.75) unless the figures are vague (…half the voters in the country…, …two thirds of the population cannot use a colon correctly.)

Following the drying process, 1/2 a gram of copper sulphate was added.

Students spend more than half their disposable income on baked beans.

She beat the world pole-vault record by 1/4 cm.

Nearly a quarter of the world’s population survives on less than a pound a day.

Place a hyphen after a unit of measure when the unit modifies a noun: 10-foot pole, 6-inch rule, 3-year-old horse.

He tried to retrieve the lost bottle with a 5-foot stick.

I teach a class of angelic 7-year-old children.

The thief was unable to scale the 12-metre fence.

He was delighted with his 78-kg prize marrow.

There are occasions where combining written numbers and numerals will clear up possible confusion. Where you have two numbers running together, write the shorter one out in words and use numerals for the longer one.

I have a lovely class of 32seven-year-old children.

We need another 12five-litre bottles.

The thief made off with twenty1000-dollar bills.

He counted out 200 fifty-pence pieces.

You should avoid beginning a sentence with a number that is not written out. If a sentence begins with a year, write ‘The year’ before writing out the year in numbers.

One hundred and seventeen protests were lodged with the ombudsman.

Six hundred and thirty-five nuggets were discovered in the first day of the gold rush.

The year 1849 saw the great gold rush in California.

You should always use numerals in the following situations:

With dates. Monday 20 April, 1968.

I will arrive on Tuesday 17 May, 2004.

They are due back from their holiday on Monday 23 June.

With fractions, decimals and percentages. The word ‘percent’ should be written out in words unless it is part of a technical report, in which case it is fine to use the mathematical symbol (%).

You will need to add 1/2 a teaspoon of treacle.

More than 20 percent of students admit to spending more on pot noodles than on books.

The IQ scores of the children in the control group increased by 25.75 points.

With money. The only exception to this is when the amounts are vague. In such cases it is fine to write the numbers out in words.

The concert tickets cost £ 27.50 each.

Consumers spend over £ 6 million a year on cous-cous.

Global ice-cream sales exceeded $ 1.2 million last month.

With times. Again, if timings are vague it is fine to write them out in words.

The plane from Bombay will arrive at 16:45.

I’ll see you at around half past seven.

The early morning bus arrived at 05:10 on the dot.

We left the pub at around eight o’clock and got home at around nine.

Test your understanding of the use of numbers with this exercise.
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How much time do YOU spend on Social Media?

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How much time should I spend on social media? It seems that some of the writers I follow on Twitter manage to tweet all day. I am not saying I don’t appreciate their helpful hints and links to great websites etc (I do) but I wonder when it is they get any writing done!

I only have a Twitter & Facebook account and my own blog but I find these enough to keep me from working on my latest novel.I suppose that there needs to be a balance between the two.

Nowadays, writing is not just about sitting in your kitchen or office and penning the next prize winning novel but it’s about building your brand. Potential agents and publishers will look at your online presence when considering your manuscript. We as writers need to be part of the process when it comes to marketing our work and getting it out there but how much time should I spend on it?

How much time do you spend on social Media on an average day?

Q: What Do Agents Like to See When They Google Writers?

Some really helpful insights into what an agent is looking for, especially with regard to social media. I may need to pull my finger out…..and stop writing cliches!

This is from the Blake Friedmann website.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

20120130-093459.jpg Yes, if we’re interested in your work we’ll Google you. And yes, there are things we like to see:
  • Some sort of Website. You need a landing page. (WordPress and About.me help you do this for free. You don’t have to break the bank.)
  • A certain level of Social Media proficiency. (It doesn’t have to be everything, just showing interaction.)
  • Blog posts that aren’t discussing the submission process in too much detail. Many writers lay it all out there to share the (often lonely) experience with others, but it’s really best if you can keep this to yourself.
  • Positive demeanour and Professional approach in your online interactions. It’s a small world! (And editors can Google you too.) Agents choose who they work with carefully, and we like to work with nice people.
  • A Personality. You don’t have to talk about books or writing online, if you’re passionate about…

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